Costly delays upset reactor renaissance, keep nuclear at bay

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A South African media tour of Areva's manufacturing plant in France. (Photo: Matthew le Cordeur)
A South African media tour of Areva's manufacturing plant in France. (Photo: Matthew le Cordeur)

Tokyo - Costly delays, growing complexity and new safety requirements in the wake of the triple meltdown at Fukushima are conspiring to thwart a new age of nuclear reactor construction.

So-called generation III+ reactors were supposed to have simpler designs and safety features to avoid the kind of disaster seen in Japan almost six years ago. With their development, the industry heralded the dawn of a new era of cheaper, easier-to-build atomic plants.

Instead, the new reactors are running afoul of tighter regulations and unfamiliar designs, delaying completions and raising questions on whether the breakthroughs are too complex and expensive to be realised without state aid. The developments have left the industry’s pioneers, including Areva and Westinghouse, struggling to complete long-delayed projects while construction elsewhere gains pace.

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